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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Work Of Considerable Ambition & Originality
These New Puritans first arrived with some very low-fi strange stop/start almost shouty indie around 3 or 4 years ago. There was something interesting about them then and their first album was interesting but never likely to change the world. It was the kind of album which could lead them to something of a musical cul-de-sac. So I didn't expect much from sophomore...
Published on 30 Jan 2010 by pjr

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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ...interesting...?
I picked up a copy of this after being swept up in the wave of hype and gushing reviews that accompanied its release. After a bit of time to properly digest it I thought I'd post my review to counterbalance the many, as I see it, bafflingly positive ones.

I will summarise my main opinions and put the more detailed breakdown of my comments below for those that...
Published on 12 Mar 2010 by Owl Tomes


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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Work Of Considerable Ambition & Originality, 30 Jan 2010
By 
pjr (London, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Hidden (Audio CD)
These New Puritans first arrived with some very low-fi strange stop/start almost shouty indie around 3 or 4 years ago. There was something interesting about them then and their first album was interesting but never likely to change the world. It was the kind of album which could lead them to something of a musical cul-de-sac. So I didn't expect much from sophomore effort "Hidden". There is still a similar approach to the vocals here and some of the writing mirrors the first album, the familiar should check out "Attack Music" and "Fire-Power" to see this, but that's really where the similarities end.

The band admit they were inspired by Benjamin Britten's "Peter Grimes" and the music of Steve Reich and the result isn't so much a transformation, it's an absolute revolution. Sonically ambitious this blends almost everything from drumming remenicesnt of Japanese Kodo, ornate brass and string arrangements, a children's choir, hints at classical minimalism, occasionl nods to something close to industrial bands such as Test Department it fuses indie, electronics, and a whole lot more. Challenging and brilliant lead single "We Want War" sums it up beautifully darkly crahsing unrelentingly through its seven minutes. It will undoubtedly alienate a number of fans of the first album yet those who like the ambitions of Owen Pallett's Heartland will probably understand this album immediately. There is also a sense of dread and numerous allusions to war throughout the album add to the dark sense of foreboding here.

Like it or not These New Puritans have produced a compelling and distinctive second album with many highlights. From the dripping precussive "5" which sounds straight out of the Steve Reich school of classicism to "Orion" which sounds like an industrial/operatic mash up. The album constantly surprises. If your ears are open enough to take in its ambitions then this might well end up on your best of year lists. It's the first serious contender for the Mercury Prize, a thoughtful, challenging work of considerable substance. Worth 5 stars for ambition alone, this is bold work from a band who have demonstrated that they could be artists of real significance. It's not going to be universally loved but those who do may consider it something of a masterpiece.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible Second Album, so many influences and so many surprises, 24 Dec 2010
This review is from: Hidden (Audio CD)
After witnessing this band at Offset Festival 2010 I bought this album and it really is an incredibly ambitious album that took just a couple of listens to wamr to and a couple more to become obsessed with. From the opener Time Xone which has a victorian warm feel to it, i remember a similar opening track on Badly Drawn Boys The Hour of Bewilderbeast and after witnessing live what can only be described as DIY deep electronic with wind and brass instruments and choirs I wasn't really sure what to expect. The album then moves into more electronic and works fantastically with the singers unusual un-tampered with normal vocals, and i mean normal in the nicest way, he sounds so genuine and believable in a way i have only heard from bright eyes, graham coxon and others i love so much. The music has a klaxons Myths Of The Near Futureand M.I.A Kalatype feel to it, some radiohead in the music too, not copied by any stretch of the imagination but in the way it sounds like it has been created and done without unnecessary over complicating. 'We Want War' is one of my highlights and 'Three Thousand' is my current favourite, it could have featured in a futuristic version of 'Nightmare Before Christmas' not sure why i think that, but it does sound incredible. 'Hologram' has this great almost radiohead like piano playing, sounds nothing like Pyramid Song but makes me think of that a bit. 'Attack Music' is another highlight, incredible, deep electronic with shouty lyrics that makes me want to listen to MIA's albums again,. probably also in it's political sounding, the childrens choir in the choruses have that 'Another Brick in The Wall' Pink Floyd vibe, which i love on this. 'Fire Power' makes me think of M.i.A's BirdFlu with it's drums and shouty vocals. There really is not a not amazing song on this album. Yes it has reference points to other artists, but that does not take anything away from it's originality and one of the finest debuts of recent years, really excited to see what these guys do next and i totally recommend this album and seeing them live too. If you like my review please do give it a thumbs up please.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ominous and Rewarding Insanity, 18 Jan 2010
By 
Toby Staunton "dancing mole" (Derbyshire, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Hidden (Audio CD)
These New Puritans have done something amazing. Whilst everyone is raving about Vampire Weekend and Delphic at the start of the year they have crept in and produced something totally and utterly original that is stunning in every way. Their debut had moments of brilliance but at times seemed to lack a bit of focus for me. This though is a different beast.

Opener `Time Xone' acts like an overture before `We Want War' breaks down all your expectations and reshapes them into a dark and malicious beast. It is a devastatingly confident start for a very young group of musicians. `Three Thousand' then continues the ominous drone of the previous track with some similarly creepy keyboard work balancing vocals which are more chant than song. The atmosphere is there maintained and emphasised brilliantly on this concise track. `Hologram' then acts as a counterpoint to the apocalyptic feel of the opening few tracks. It appears more upbeat and positive but underneath there is a strange sense of confinement like this is the sound of those hoping in vain for a better tomorrow. This idea is then exaggerated by the return to a more menacing sound in `Attack Music'.

`Fire-Power' follows with like a distorted and strangely desperate fight between two panicked enemies who do not quite know why they are fighting. It therefore has a strange and unnerving atmosphere. This is followed by the more definite direction of `Orion'. Here drum lines are initially punctuated and then surrounded by initially truncated and then swelling choral parts and synths. `Canticle' then offers another moment of relative peace and clarity from the brooding menace of the rest of the album. Sure enough then `Drum Courts-Where Corals Lie' returns to a more intense sound with a driving drum line, soft organ sweeps and vocals like the chant of a madman. Moments of calm in the song are followed by a return to the intense drumming with greater layering and depth which helps to emphasise the calm insanity of it.

`White Chords' has a strangely quiet introspection to it which really stands out compared to the relative intensity of the rest of the album. None the less the moments of sweeping instrumentation towards the end are wonderfully calculated and emotional. This is the sound of a young band with musical maturity beyond their years, and the bouncing and happy counterpoint presented by `5' at the end of the album reflects this, with interesting orchestration balancing twinkling rhythms and deep ominous sweeps.

The whole album then is an extraordinary experience. Diverse and mature it is a joy to listen to and I expect to find more and more details in the tracks as I listen to it long into the future. It is simply stunning.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterclass in genre-hopping orginality, 20 May 2010
By 
J. Lachno "thepopscener" (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Hidden (Audio CD)
At the very least a startling achievement in genre dynamics, asserting that 'Hidden' successfully melds Hot Chip glitchery with drum `n' bass aggression and schizophrenic world-rhythms damns it with the faintest of praise. True, it does all of the above, but offers a far richer aural tapestry - namely funereal organs, forlorn horns and chillingly sinister operatic backing vocals. Indeed, songs like `Attack Music' and `We Want War' are not alone in harbouring a kind of unrelenting dystopian menace, while the incomprehensible, juvenile closing chant of `Orion' should bestow the shivers on anyone with a pulse. As intelligent and progressive as it is unsettling: demands to be heard.

Choice Cuts: `We Want War', `Orion', `Hologram', `Drum Courts - Where Corals Lie'
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars mesmorizing, 14 May 2010
This review is from: Hidden (Audio CD)
New group to me. I haven't any sort of pidgeon hole for them @ all! A clever percussive based band that is @ once awesome, scary & enchanting. Sonically satisfying with superlative production. Definitely a castle creation.
The work employs both sparse & elaborate sequences building stuctures that remain firmly implanted on the listener. Chamber style music accompanied by fiery percussives & mysterious vocal chanting & rambling on.
A standout recording in my opinion!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's absolutley my type of music, 9 May 2010
This review is from: Hidden (Audio CD)
Music taste is a controversial theme, but in my opinion this CD is a great piece of art. "These new puritans" create songs that fits perfectly into the year 2010. For myself I often compare "Hidden" with "Kid A" by "Radiohead" (2000) because even in ten years it still will be both, ageless and modern in the same time. The hidden track is very well hidden. But it's a great song, and worth of searching it. I am not from GB, but the CD is much cheaper on Amazon.uk, even with customs duty. Anyone that likes special music, will love this album. But first listen to myspace music to get an impression of what it sounds like (as every normal person does). It is an investigation, and for holding the CD in hands, it's worth the money. By downloading it you lose some of the "magic", I think. :)

And even if your not from GB the delivery works well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sound of the Future?, 17 Feb 2010
By 
This review is from: Hidden (Audio CD)
Thirty or forty years ago people looking to the future did so with a mixture of excitement and wonder. It hadn't been long since man first bounced across the surface of the moon and space exploration still offered up many possibilities to those who dared to dream and wonder. Star Wars and Star Trek were the most popular shows on television because they presented scenarios in which even the most humble cave dweller could fly a jet fighter into the heart of a planet and destroy it in an interstellar firework display that would bring him fame if not fortune nor further acting roles.

Over the years the stuff of science fiction became the stuff of science fact as egg heads and boffins became increasingly more ambitious. However, we are only five years away from having to accept that hover-boards and self drying jackets were the stuff only the imagination of Hollywood script writers could conjure up. But then again back in 1985 there were no working time machines either; the DeLorean itself was impractical, let alone the flux capacitor.

Even when 2001 rolled around and there was no Space Odyssey to be seen and people began to stop dreaming. However, the catastrophic and world changing events of that year pointed to a much more terrifying future than anything that Kubric could have predicted, and as oil runs dangerously low and ideological beliefs clash with increasing violence one thing is made abundantly clear: The Future Is War.

These New Puritans are the sound of the future. Not only do they pedal a good line in sonic frequencies that can prick the hairs on your neck up to razor sharp spikes, but they also specialise in doom, terror and militant beats, albeit militant beats that will have you dancing as opposed to marching. Anyone who is familiar with Scott Walker's The Drift will be familiar with the cold percussive thud of the flesh of dead swine and here the sound is emulated until it sounds like the thrum of helicopter blades or the recoil of machine gun fire. Add to this horns that bring to mind Aaron Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man and choirs of youthful Gregorians and you have the perfect soundtrack to a war in a dark, bleak future.

Doesn't sound like fun? Maybe not. Maybe Hidden is not the sort of record you can get grooving to on a Saturday night at the youth club, but it is dangerously cool, and as fresh and sharp as the sword we hear ringing with a clarity of tone that cuts through the mix during "We Want War", a tone that is so ice cold and clear that you would be forgiven for thinking that a real Samurai has appeared from the shadows of your room and is about to take your head cleanly off your neck.

Elsewhere there are other sinister sounds lurking beneath the relentless dancehall beats and anyone who has recently read House of Leaves or seen Paranormal Activity will be forgiven for feeling their bowels lunge in terror at the thudding that seems to be coming from something terrifying beyond the door, taunting you with a methodical, rhythmic pounding. Whilst it is not quite as frightening as Scott Walker's aforementioned The Drift, as that album inhabits another world entirely, it is the closest thing I can equate it to in mood if not sound. And Hidden still stands a chance of getting your hips swaying despite that feeling of unease.

And so These New Puritans present to us their vision of the future; bleak, unsettling and violent. Given this prediction would any of us really want to live there? Is there any enjoyment to be weaned out of this sort of musical statement? Simply put, my answer is yes. However, if someone asks me where I'd rather spend my time, Heaven or Hell, I usually quip Hell, because the Devil has all the best tunes and because all of my friends will be there. Obviously, if there is a Heaven then I take that back, but similarly, given the choice between the future, where the soundtrack is this record, or a time machine that would enable me to dwell forever in the songs I have already heard, then I take the future and all its uncertainty. Which is fortunate as I have nowhere else to go.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ...interesting...?, 12 Mar 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Hidden (Audio CD)
I picked up a copy of this after being swept up in the wave of hype and gushing reviews that accompanied its release. After a bit of time to properly digest it I thought I'd post my review to counterbalance the many, as I see it, bafflingly positive ones.

I will summarise my main opinions and put the more detailed breakdown of my comments below for those that have more time to read!

Pros: The drum production is excellent. It has an unusual and perhaps `original' sound overall: it probably is an album that people should hear for themselves.

Cons: Whilst new and innovative is good, it shouldn't be a means in of itself; the music needs to actually `work' and, for me, this doesn't. The main vocals are often dreadful, there are some very poorly chosen sampled sounds and too many of the tracks just meander around without really going anywhere. In fact many of the songs just sound like demos that have yet to be fully realised. "Interesting" is a word that kept springing to mind; not always in a positive way.

Therefore my rating: a generous 3 stars, mostly for having tried to be different.

A track-by-track breakdown:

TIME XONE: A short, sombre tune using low woodwind and brass which sounds quite unusual at first but ultimately comes across like a dull Grade 5 piece adapted for ensemble. It doesn't really go anywhere but, perhaps, suggests that interesting things might follow.

WE WANT WAR: Clearly a centrepiece of the album. The drums are good but are they doing enough to be at the forefront of most of the track? The sword-schwing noise goes well with the Japanese-style drums. There are some very tacky sampled vocal sounds on here and the sing-speak vocals just make it sound drab (another word that kept springing to mind). Where is it all going? Apparently "sea breeze" is the climax. Hmmm.

THREE THOUSAND: This has more of the awful sampled voice sound triggered off a keyboard, the drums are OK, we get more of the sword-schwing noise (not so novel anymore) and drab talking over the top. Unmemorable.

HOLOGRAM: Tempts the listener in with left-right phased snare drums, but the "singer"'s tune is so all over the place he can't actually sing the notes he's written for himself. Short and unstructured, it just fizzles out.

ATTACK MUSIC: Unfortunately that awful sampled voice sound pops up throughout this track, spoiling it. The female singers do a much better job than the main man and the woodwind over the simple bass riff works quite nicely.

FIRE-POWER: A switch to 6/8 time is a nice change. Really good drums (again) but very annoying vocals (again)(he's still trying to sing while speaking, then he tries two different ways of pronouncing the word "fire" which sounds silly and as if he couldn't think of anything better to do). At the end the tune of Time Xone comes back. Was he not sure how else to end it?

ORION: Probably my least favourite track of all, combining the tacky voice sample YET AGAIN, excruciatingly dreadful singing (especially in the chorus) and another meandering tune that once more the singer can't seem to actually follow himself. All this coupled with some detuned backing. Euch. The drums are decent though...

CANTICLE: A short `palette-cleanser'.

DRUM COURTS-WHERE CORALS LIE: Probably my favourite track - the elements of his music work better here, and he half-whispers the vocals which works far, far better. Good abrupt ending.

WHITE CHORDS: Good almost shoegaze-y chorus where you can just about ignore his singing, but in the verses the strained out-of-tune-ness makes it almost unlistenable.

5: The best of the non-drumming tracks. Good Steve-Reich-esque overlapping glockenspiel/vibraphone phrases, with proper choral vocals (see, you don't have to trigger them off a keyboard!) and clashing brass chords to finish. Leaves a pleasant taste in the mouth at the end, at least.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant album, 12 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Hidden (Audio CD)
Hidden is my favourite album of 2010. It is quite unlike anything I have ever heard before and the whole thing is intelligent and exciting.
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5.0 out of 5 stars WE WANT WAR, 23 May 2013
By 
Rooksby (United KIngdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Hidden (Audio CD)
I came to Hidden late, I have to admit. Though I'd vaguely heard of These New Puritans previously, my first exposure to them was seeing them perform live back in 2010 - I actually only went along to see the support act, the sadly all-but-forgotten Lonelady (where did SHE disappear to, I wonder?), but hung around for TNP & was - to coin an oft-used cliché - "blown away".

Thundering into life with the brutal "We Want War", Hidden's forceful percussive onslaught rarely relents, & I strongly suspect it's brutal battery of drums & chanted, oblique vocals would punch holes through the listener's creaking ribcage given the opportunity. Fierce & all-consuming, Hidden is a deceptively complex work, often based around simple brass & woodwind arrangements (in addition to sparing use of traditional rock instruments & the aforementioned wall of percussion), whose intense & austere sound inevitably pushes front man Jake Barnett's oblique, intriguing lyrics to the fore. Dissent, dystopia, & the death of Albion are major preoccupations, it seems. The only comparisons I can suggest are Steve Reich's early minimal compositions, Talk Talk's later albums, (& Mark Hollis's subsequent, terrific solo LP) &, at it's most daunting, Laibach's less arch recordings. Pretentious, possibly. But in a good way? Certainly.

An excellent album from a very interesting band.
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